At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.
Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that we are fortunate to have a God of second chances. Thankfully, we are not permanently branded by the worst things we’ve ever done. In Jesus’ time, there was an understanding that bad things happened to people due to sin, either their sin or the sin of their parents. So it was understood that those who died at Pilate’s hand, or in a tower collapse, must have been very sinful people. Jesus challenges this notion by reminding us that we are all sinful, but that God offers us the chance to repent, to turn, to change. The First Week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius brings us to the understanding that we are loved sinners.
In the second part of the Gospel, we are shown how we can begin to change our hearts. The fig tree stood for three years without producing fruit. Rather than continuing to do the same thing and just hoping for a change, the gardener plans to give it special care and attention, hoping that the effort will yield fruit. Our hearts are the same way. It is the areas where we have a tendency to sin that we must give the most attention and work the hardest to overcome.
How can we work to turn our hearts back to a God who loves us and offers us so many chances?
—The Jesuit Prayer team
Lord, we know that we fall short of what is asked of us but that you love us anyway. Help us to nourish and tend to our hearts so that we may continue to turn back to your loving embrace. May we never forget that we are loved by you in spite of our sinfulness. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team
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